Tag Archives: Mur Lafferty

Non Sequitur: Fun Facts (Round 1)

Recently, I spouted a series of “facts” about some of the folks I converse with on Twitter. In their original form, these all contained 140 characters or less. For ease of use today I have expanded the names of the Factees, so some individual facts may exceed the 140-character limit.

BONUS QUEST: Savvy readers might be able to determine the impetus for this exercise in lunacy if they examine the list carefully.

  • FUN FACT: Sam Chupp has not one but two arms, each with a five-fingered hand at the end. Individually, the hands are incapable of clapping.
  • FUN FACT: Jared Axelrod can go from clean-shaven to a goatee in seven minutes flat if he concentrates.
  • FUN FACT: Chris Miller once stabbed a minor Internet celebrity in the face…WITH HIS EYES!
  • FUN FACT: J.C. Hutchins loses all his super powers if he sees the color chartreuse, but only if it is actually Pantone® 14-0445.
  • FUN FACT: Contrary to popular belief, Bob is not married to the daughter of a prominent Mafia Don…ANYMORE.
  • FUN FACT: Evo Terra would just as soon kill you as look at you, but in actuality HE DOES NOT WANT TO LOOK AT YOU.
  • FUN FACT: Kris Johnson had a triple-shot venti mocha from Starbucks after lunch, and now his BRAIN IS ON FIRE.
  • FUN FACT: Ken Newquist has never been within arm’s length of an extraterrestrial being, but only because he has RIDICULOUSLY SHORT ARMS.
  • FUN FACT: Ivan has a removable face, used to switch expressions and show emotion, but he never changes it because he is ALWAYS ANGRY.
  • FUN FACT: Mur Lafferty once wrote a romance novel under the pseudonym Karyn Van Heusen. The title: LOVE’S FORBIDDEN FILLING.
  • FUN FACT: As a master of several forms of martial arts, Jason Penney knows 114 ways to immobilize a man, seven of them using JUST HIS GILLS.

SECRET BONUS QUEST: If you are extremely observant (and I suspect you are), you have already noticed that each of the names mentioned above is actually a hypertext link to another area of the Interwebs altogether. If I were to suggest that a CODED MESSAGE can be revealed by reading the fifth word of the most recent blog post (as of 18 January 2009) at or near each of these locations, I WOULD BE LYING. If I were to suggest that the first person to embark upon such a wild goose chase and comment here with the unscrambled message might win a prize of not-insignificant fabulosity, THAT WOULD ALSO BE A LIE. You should not do this. There is no message. There is no prize. Any effort you expend in attempting to glean such a message in order to attain such a prize would be UTTERLY WASTED. I am absolutely not kidding.

The Amazon Rush: Comes the Apocalypse

As August of ought-eight was drawing to a close, a new composition by an enterprising and imaginitive young woman named Mur Lafferty was made available for purchase to those individuals with the means to connect their personal computational apparatuses to the Internets. The very idea that a woman would have not only the time to write a book—I suspect her child routinely goes unfed, her floors have not been scrubbed in weeks, and her husband rarely arrives home after a hard day’s work to find dinner a-table—but the audacity to publish it raises moral questions aplenty, ((To speak nothing of the home environment that allows a woman to become enterprising and imaginative in the first place.)) but that is an issue for another time. For the moment, let us allow that Ms. Lafferty has written and published a tale of sheerest fantasy, a yarn involving citizens who are possessed of extra-ordinary abilities, quite probably as a direct result of consorting with Satan; it might well be an allegory, but as it is told through the pen of a woman, the moral and metaphor—if they exist at all—have escaped me entirely.

I ought not dwell on the particulars of Ms. Lafferty’s fantastickal tale, for my purpose here to-day is not to discuss the merits and moral abiguities of said tale but rather the means by which it had—prior to appearing in the on-line marketplace—come to my attention. As has been previously noted, Ms. Lafferty is a woman of enterprise and imagination, and she posited that it was possible to increase awareness (and thus, potentially, sales) of her tale by giving it away to the public at no charge. Reckless seekers of thrill and vice who were savvy enough to access the Internets could, by means involving daemons named “Syndication” and “Enclosure” and “Pod-catcher”, freely partake of the tale as told in Ms. Lafferty’s own voice. In making her story thus available, Ms. Lafferty was able to ensorcell a number of unfortunates who would eventually become her pawns, a throng of adherents only too willing to transform their mistress’ every whim into reality. Despite my iron resolve, despite my nigh-indomitable will, despite my every precaution, dear reader, I was drawn into this web myself, a web that stretched the world wide.

On the day when Ms. Lafferty’s manuscript became available for purchase at on-line retailers, the authoress bade her disciples ((I hesitate to mention that they are often referred to colloquially as “Mur’s Bitches”, for the moniker gives rise to even further suspicions that Ms. Lafferty—and, indeed, those who supplicate themselves at her feet—truck with The Devil. The simple fact that her devotees do genuflect in her presence, coupled with Ms. Lafferty’s penchant for tiaras, smacks of idolatry.)) to engage in something known as an “Amazon rush”. This, I am relieved to report, has nothing at all to do with legions of Scythian warrior women; rather, it is a concentrated free-market assault on a single on-line purveyor of books: Amazon.com.

Set loose upon the unsuspecting merchant, Ms. Lafferty’s loyal flock exchanged the currency of the land for bound copies of her fanciful narrative. When the sun set upon this particular day of commerce, the rabid fanatics had propelled Ms. Lafferty’s manuscript to the very zenith of one particular column on the merchant’s ledgers: that column titled “Science Fiction”. In the space of four and twenty hours, the loyal adherents had made Ms. Lafferty’s tale a best-seller. In doing so (and, more imporantly, while doing so), the disciples had flooded the tubes—the very tubes that form the circulatory system of the Internets—with electronic missives acknowledging that they had complied with their mistress’ wishes and encouraging others—particularly the unensorcelled—to do the same.

It is important at this juncture to note that the concept of the “Amazon rush” did not spring forth fully formed from the mind of Ms. Lafferty. The tactic had been used with similar results (up to and including the flooding of the tubes) by several of Ms. Lafferty’s peers. The earliest documented case being April of ought-seven, when fantacist Scott Sigler encouraged a group of erudite and learned bibliophiles to purchase his tale of science-gone-awry, Ancestor. Mr. Sigler’s success encouraged other authors to follow in his footsteps, and ought-eight saw no less than four such “rushes” between April and August, including a cooperative effort from Tee Morris ((I include Mr. Morris here only out of a sense of duty to report the facts fully and accurately. While I hold Mr. Sigler, Mr. Harwood and Mr. Selznick in high esteem, the same cannot be said of Mr. Morris, for he is a unapologetic gadabout.)) and Philippa Ballantine ((Ms. Ballantine was the first female author of whom I am aware to rush Amazon.com, setting an uncomfortable precedent as well as a singularly unwholesome example for the fairer sex. However, Ms. Ballantine is from New Zealand, a country known for its loose morals and relaxed attitude with respect to the proper role of women, and I would expect nothing less from a country so perilously close to Australia.)) scarcely more than a fortnight before Ms. Lafferty unleashed her hordes upon the merchant.

Jack Wakes Up by Seth Harwood Infected by Scott Sigler Brave Men Run by Matthew Wayne Selznick The Case of the Pitcher's Pendant: A Billibub Baddings Mystery by Tee Morris Digital Magic by Philippa Ballantine Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty

Each of these “rushes”, as I have previously noted, caused considerable flooding of the tubes. As men more qualified to speak on the matter than I have already attested, flooding the tubes in such a fashion can lead only to disaster. When I realized that the veins and arteries through which the lifeblood of the Internets flowed were at nigh-constant risk due to these “rushes”, the scintillating threads and strands of bedazzlement spun by Ms. Lafferty began to clear from my mind and I beheld the looming peril: with the tubes so flooded, there was room for little else. In a delirious panick, I dispatched an electronic advisory to my friend and colleague, Mr. Chris Miller. In doing so, I drew back the gossamer veil that had covered his eyes and he, too, saw the threat.

Together, Mr. Miller and I resolved that we would not sit idly by in the face of the coming chaos. When my impassioned pleas to Mr. Selznick went unanswered, Mr. Miller issued a statement decrying the use of the “Amazon rush”. “The danger,” his first draft read, “is imminent; the consequences, dire. This practice must be abolished at once, not only for the good of those who will yield the brunt of the coming storm, but for those who will follow us and feel its echoing reverberations in years to come.” ((Alas, the published version of Mr. Miller’s warning does not hew so close to the truth of the matter; I suspect his tone was tempered not with cool reasoning, but with cold, hard currency. His further statements on the matter lead me to believe that the veil I so abruptly tore from his face has been replaced and is now stitched to his very flesh.))

As I write this, the debate rages on. In my desire to alert the world to the dangers of the “Amazon rush”, I may have inadvertently done more harm than good, for even now the tubes fill with comments from authors and statements issued by pundits. The demise of the Internets, it seems, may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I its unwitting prophet.

Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

Podiobooks to Print: Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty

Another podcast novelist makes the leap (over a tall building) to print on Monday, 25 August as Mur Lafferty‘s superhero novel, Playing for Keeps, debuts from Swarm Press.

I read Playing for Keeps about a year ago, when a pre-overlord Chris Miller and I were asked to assist with some of the “Stories of the Third Wave” supporting material for the podcast release of the novel. Unfortunately, I had to drop out of the production after only one episode due to some conflicting obligations, but the story of super-powered people whose abilities aren’t quite good enough to make them full-fledged superheroes is right up my alley and I’ve often speculated that my own “Third Wave” power could be anything from killing hard drives to sipping coffee just before it has cooled down to the point where it won’t burn my tongue.

Here’s the official press release from the publisher:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 25 Release Date for Mur Lafferty’s Playing for Keeps

Swarm Press is pleased to announce the upcoming release of breakthrough podcaster and author Mur Lafferty’s newest novel of superheroic action Playing for Keeps. Originally a self-released “podiobook,” this new printed version of Lafferty’s novel is due to hit shelves on August 25, 2008.

Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty.

Welcome to Seventh City, the birthplace of super powers. The First Wave heroes are jerks, but they have the best gifts: flight, super strength, telepathy, genius, fire. The Third Wavers, like bar-owner Keepsie Branson and her friends, are stuck with the leftovers: the ability to instantly make someone sober, the power to smell the past, absolute control… over elevators. They just aren’t powerful enough to make a difference… at least that’s what they’ve always been told. But when the villain Doodad slips Keepsie a mysterious metal sphere, the Third Wavers become caught in the middle of a battle between egotistical heroes and manipulative villains.

Playing for Keeps grabbed me and kept me reading straight through when I should have been plotting a new fantasy series for Tor Books. Mur, thank you. Tor, however, does not thank you.” – David Drake, author, Hammer’s Slammers.

Mur Lafferty is an American podcaster and writer based in Durham, North Carolina. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with a degree in English. Her nonfiction work has appeared at www.SuicideGirls.com, as well as in the magazines Knights of the Dinner Table, PC Gamer, Computer Games, Scrye, and SciFi Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in Hub, Escape Pod, and Scrybe. She was, until July, 2007, the host and co-editor of Pseudopod, and is currently the host and creator of the podcasts Geek Fu Action Grip and I Should be Writing. Visit Mur online at www.murverse.com

Playing for Keeps is still available as a free audio production at Podiobooks.com.

Podiobooks to Print: Brave Men Run by Matthew Wayne Selznick

Brave Men Run - I Will Be ThereMatthew Wayne Selznick‘s Brave Men Run: A Novel of the Sovereign Era is the latest podiobook to make the jump to the print market. The book will be released by Swarm Press this Sunday, 13 July 2008, and Matt has planned a day-long “Book Release Web-a-thon” to help promote sales on Amazon.com. There are plenty of details at the the book’s official site but the gist is this: beginning at 10am EST on Sunday and continuing every hour throughout the day, Matt will be streaming live video and reading new short stories set in the universe of his novels. Contributors include Mur Lafferty (Playing For Keeps), J.C. Hutchins (the 7th Son trilogy), Nathan Lowell (South Coast, Quarter Share) and other well-known podcasters and podiobook authors.

Brave Men Run is the story of Nate Charters, a teenaged boy who is about as far from normal as teenagers get: he looks different and he has abilities that he has kept hidden from his peers for his entire life. But when the existence of the so-called “Sovereigns” is announced on live television, Nate learns that he is not alone, and his life changes forever. Brave Men Run is a superhero coming-of-age story that doesn’t feel like it was lifted from the pages of a comic book, but rather like it was born in the halls of your own high school and on the streets of your home town.

Brave Men Run: A Novel of the Sovereign Era is still available as a free, serialized audiobook at Podiobooks.com, read by the author. The audio version was nominated for a Parsec Award in 2006.

Origins 2008 Wrap-up

Here’s how it went down: Chris Miller and I hit the road in the MVoD at approximately 6:00 Friday morning, armed with a cooler full of bottled water, some geeky t-shirts and our Zoom H2 digital voice recorder.

Friday

  • Arriving at around 9:00, we met Mur Lafferty, Jim Van Verth, the Pink Tornado, Cmaaarrr and SciFi Laura for breakfast at Max & Erma’s, buffet style.
  • Registration. Piece of cake! Pro tip: pre-register; it saves time and money. I decided not to buy any event passes because I wanted to play it by ear. I didn’t even pick up a handy program guide; I was totally footloose and fancy free.
  • The Board Room: Rio Grande Games was giving away two free games with the purchase of a $16 pass to the Board Room. I snagged Crocodile Pool Party and Dragonriders. I wound up selling Dragonriders for $10 to a random guy in the hall about four hours later.
  • While in the Board Room, we played Pandemic with Mur, Jim, Cmar and Laura. I want this game, but it is apparently very scarce at the moment.
  • Lunch at The North Market. I played it safe and went with a known quantity: General Tso’s Chicken. During lunch the phrase “Give in to your sapphic desires!” was uttered, entirely within the context of the conversation.
  • Arkham Horror on Flickr, by codeshamanBack to the Board Room for some Arkham Horror with all the expansions. We were joined by Shannon Farrell and Carlos (whose last name I can never remember). Three and a half hours later, we had to wrap up the game due to time constraints. By the end of the game, Cmar had tapped Granny no less than fifteen times; she was exhausted, but he was not.
  • Eventually we found ourselves gathered for dinner at Buca di Beppo with all of the above plus David Moore, Mario Dongu, Rachel Ross, John and JD. No vicious Internet rumors were started after I finished my linguine. None.
  • Karaoke at The Big Bar on Two in the Hyatt. Paul Tevis nailed Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and Rob Balder performed “Always a Goth Chick”, his parody of Billy Joel’s “Always a Woman.” Everyone else sucked. One whiskey sour, one Long Island Iced Tea and two gin and tonics later, it was…
  • Bedtime!

Saturday

  • Breakfast with David, Shannon, Cmaaarrr and SciFi Laura at Max & Erma’s.
  • Chris had to return home unexpectedly due to an emergency (don’t worry, everyone’s fine).
  • I took a quick trip to Best Buy, where I bought a Fujifilm Finepix J10 digital camera.
  • I met up with Gunnar “Miscellaneous G™” Hultgren and Jon “Man Mountain” Pollom for lunch at The North Market. How many days in a row can I eat General Tso’s Chicken for lunch? The world may never know.
  • Wonder WomanArmed with my new camera, I roamed the halls of the convention center looking for photo-ops. I managed to get a picture of Wonder Woman, but that was about it. I also visited the dealer’s room and carefully avoided the Chessex Bin o’ Hepatitis (more commonly referred to as the big dice bin; I was tempted to pick up some cheap dice, but the idea of rooting around in there just wasn’t very appealing).
  • FeedbackLater in the afternoon, I attended the Heroes and Villains costume contest, sponsored by the Ohio Gamers Association. There weren’t hundreds (or even hundred, singular) of contestants, but there were some very good costumes. Matthew “Feedback” Atherton, winner of season one of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? was the master of ceremonies and he did a very good job and hung around to chat with people afterward. He even did a promo for the upcoming release of Mur’s superhero novel, Playing For Keeps (available on Amazon.com, August 25th). The guy is just too damn likable.
  • Mur “dragged” us to a barbecue where we played Mad Scientist University. The card game was ridiculously fun, owing to some excellent players with truly wild imaginations. I knew we were in for a treat early on when Ralph Melton equipped dwarfs with decoder rings, shrunk them down Inner Space-style and injected them into a human being to decode RNA. We created a bizarre continuity involving vampires, penguins, the Moore sphere, and a fifty-page index written by mosquitos. Much of the game was recorded by David Moore and may eventually be released to the public, but only after heavy censoring by the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Tannhäuser in ProgressDavid had to run off to play the role of an NPC in an ARG and it was Mur’s evening with The Pink Tornado, so Jim, Cmar, Laura and I went to the Board Room and broke out Tannhäuser, which is essentially a first-person shooter board game. I had played once before but opted not to participate, instead providing occasional helpful (I hope) tips with the rules based on my prior experience. I started zonking out around midnight, so it was soon…
  • Bedtime!

Sunday

  • At 10:00, we met for breakfast with the gang and Max & Erma’s. How many days in a row can I eat the same buffet for breakfast? Three.
  • After breakfast, David, Mario and I returned to Room 929 to record The Secret Lair Origins Report. Assuming I didn’t completely fail my Use Zoom H2 Digital Recorder roll, we should have that posted in the next couple of days.
  • At noon, I dashed to the dealer’s room to buy AmuseAmaze, a word game that I thought Laura might enjoy. By some stroke of luck, I found the rest of our merry gang playing some sort of card game and managed to say my goodbyes before dashing back to the Crown Plaza to…
  • Pile my luggage and loot onto a cart, load up the MVoD and hit the highway.

And that pretty much wrapped it up for Origins 2008. With Mr. Miller soon moving to the Los Angeles area, I don’t know whether I’ll be inclined to attend Origins 2009, but I do know that my next convention is Con on the Cob in early October.

Origins 2008: Rumors, Baseless and Otherwise

You may have heard rumors that I am presently attending the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio. I can now confirm that this is (as of this writing), absolutely true.

You may also have heard rumors concerning the absence of one Mr. Ken Newquist and whether or not Mur Lafferty was somehow responsible. Though I cannot say with absolute certainty that this has no basis in fact, I have reason to believe that it is patently untrue.

Finally, there is another dubious assertion that Cmar, M.D. goes around wearing a prosthetic noggin so as to appear taller than four feet and two inches, and that he uses a complex periscopic device to look down upon those around him through eerie, ever-staring artificial eyes. Is this true? I don’t know, but having spent considerable time with the man yesterday I have come to the conclusion that it could go either way.

Radio IsopodIf you were under the impression that the rumor of the doctor’s false head was the last of the bunch, then I’m afraid you were deceived. It is unwise to believe everything you read on these Internets, even on this very blog. Here is the true final rumor of the moment, one I can happily assure you is one hundred per cent accurate and true: Natalie Metzger, known in some circles as The Fuzzy Slug and in other circles largely overlapping the first as minitotoro, has released the first episode of her fantastical new podcast, Radio Isopod. You would do well to listen to it; you might even recognize a voice or two.

While you do that, I shall remain at Origins, attempting to substantiate or disprove the scurrilous scuttlebutt as I become aware of it. At some point, I expect there will be photographs.

The Ultimate Pardon

“Run through it one more time for me, Tom,” the President said, squinting slightly against the sun. The sky was clear, not even the contrail of a passing jet detracting from the pale blue firmament. This isn’t right, he thought, frowning as he watched a lone bird—a hawk by the look of it—soar quietly overhead. I’d always imagined this sort of thing to be done in the dead of night; certainly not in broad daylight…and certainly not with worldwide media coverage.

The reporters were held at bay perhaps a hundred yards away, lined up behind the cemetery’s high, wrought iron fence. The President knew they were there, but didn’t bother to look; he knew their cameras were likely focused on him, trying to catch a glimpse through the broad-shouldered throng of Secret Service agents. He knew that even from this distance, the cameras would see every detail of his face—his furrowed brow, the hint of tears welling up in the corners of his eyes, the downturned corners of his mouth—and broadcast it all to millions, perhaps billions, of television sets across the globe.

“Yes, sir,” Tom said. The advisor adjusted his tie—a nervous tic he hadn’t managed to overcome despite nearly four years in the public eye—and gestured to the coffin that had been exhumed several hours ago. “When you’re ready, we’ll open the casket. Secret Service will do one final security sweep, then all personnel will retreat to the ten yard perimeter. Once the perimeter is established, you will light the torch at each vertice of the pentagram…”

The President looked at the coffin as Tom ran through the procedure for the fifth time in as many days. He nodded slowly, only half-listening to his advisor. The polished wood gleamed brightly; either the concrete vault had protected the coffin exceptionally well, or someone had spent a considerable amount of time cleaning it after the exhumation. Surely the corpse within would not have remained as untouched by the ravages of time as the vessel in which it had been interred.

The President waited until Tom finished, then took a deep breath. “Let’s get this over with,” he said, shrugging off his suit jacket and handing it to an aide—Camryn, he reminded himself for no particular reason. He loosened his tie and watched as the sexton—the only person on the cemetery grounds who wasn’t part of the White House staff—opened the heavy coffin lid.

There was a brief, heavy moment as the sexton looked into the casket, his face ash-white, before the Secret Service descended upon the open coffin, visually inspecting the vessel and the remains it contained while two German Shepherds sniffed for explosives and hazardous chemicals.

This isn’t right, the President thought again, this is a desecration. He wondered if his predecessor, the first United States President to grant the ultimate pardon before leaving office, had felt the same way. No, he didn’t expect she had. He didn’t expect she had felt much of anything at all.

“All Clear!”

In seconds, he was alone. The Secret Service and the K-9 unit had retreated to the perimeter, along with Tom and Camryn and the rest of the President’s staff. He took another deep breath and hefted his old Bic lighter—a present from his father, of all people; his father who could not abide smokers. He ran a thumb over the worn emblem on front of the stainless steel, an American eagle whose color had been rubbed away years ago, and thought that this, too, was wrong. Surely he was not going to begin the sacred rite by flipping his Bic.

But he did just that, and the flame was as strong as it had ever been, barely guttering in the afternoon breeze. The President lit the first torch, nearly burning his knuckles as whatever concoction soaked the tip came ablaze with a soft whump. He crossed from the northern point of the star to the southwest, then to the northeast, then northwest and finally southeast, deliberately not looking at the coffin that lay in the center of the pentagram.

All five torches lit, the President snapped the lid of his lighter shut and dropped it into his right pocket, the weight a familiar reassurance. He took another deep breath and stepped to the side of the coffin, finally looking down at the body within. Time, as he suspected had not been kind. The face was drawn and desiccated, lips pulled back to form a grotesque grin around teeth that seemed too large for the sunken features. He was suddenly very glad of the arcane rules that governed this macabre proceeding: to be eligible for raising, the individual must have died while the President raising him or her held office. Four years had not been gentle to the corpse; he shuddered to think of how cruel forty would have been.

The President lifted a trembling hand and rested it on the wrinkled forehead. The skin was dry beneath his palm and felt so much unlike human flesh that he had to fight back the urge to vomit. My approval rating is bad enough, he thought hysterically, I can’t imagine how low it would plunge if I puked on national television in the course of performing my last official act as President. He almost looked up at the cameras he knew were there, at the members of his staff he knew were watching, but instead he blinked away fresh tears and took another deep breath.

I don’t want to do this. Oh, God, I do not want to do this.

But he had taken an oath, and whether he wanted to perform the ritual or not didn’t matter; only that he believed the ritual would work. And he believed. Oh, yes, he believed. On his inauguration day he had watched his outgoing predecessor perform the ritual herself. Had watched a dead man rise from a coffin much like this one. Oh, yes, he believed.

His voice cracked as he spoke. “By the power vested in me by the citizens of the United States of America, I release you from death. I welcome you to a new life.”

Again the President nearly vomited as warmth blossomed in the forehead beneath his hand. His breath caught in his chest and he staggered back, his fingers cramping and twisting, his palm burning with a cold fire that spread up his arm. The President fell to his knees, unable to breathe, staring as manicured fingers gripped the edge of the coffin and the figure within rose.

***

Tom didn’t look at the body on the ground as he stepped forward. “Madam President,” he said, smiling and extending his right hand.  “Welcome back.”


The preceding story was inspired by Mur Lafferty‘s new project, The News From Poughkeepsie, wherein she plans to post a story idea each day for a year. Today’s writing prompt asks what would happen if the President had the power to raise people from the dead at the end of his term.

This is pretty much a first draft, though I did do some on-the-fly editing.

Audio Novel: Playing For Keeps by Mur Lafferty

Playing For Keeps

Mur Lafferty’s new audio novel, Playing For Keeps, tells the story of Keepsie Branson, a young woman with a unique ability: nothing she owns can be taken from her against her will. Unfortunately, in a world where superheroes are subsidized by taxpayer dollars, Keepsie doesn’t quite make the grade; she’s just not powerful enough to be officially sanctioned as a full-fledged hero. Denied the opportunity to use her ability for the betterment of humanity, Keepsie has opened a bar across the street from the Academy, the home base of Seventy City’s A-List superheroes. Keepsie’s Bar is a popular watering hole where Third Wavers—people like Keepsie, whose powers have been designated useless by the elitist metahuman snobs at the Academy—gather to commiserate.

Despite being shunned by the Academy, Keepsie and her friends find themselves swept up in the action as the criminal mastermind known as Doodad brings his latest evil plan to bear on Seventh City. Keepsie finds herself in possession of a strange object that both heroes and villains want, and suddenly her power doesn’t seem so insignificant anymore. Neither side can take the object without her permission, and now Keepsie finds herself in a position to help the heroes she despises…or the villains who just might destroy everything she loves.

The first chapter in this unconventional superhero tale is already available at the official Playing For Keeps website and a new chapter will be published each week. While you’re there, read the official PFK blog, listen to promos, download wallpaper and Twitter icons, and more!

Stories of the Third Wave

But wait, there’s more! To enhance the Playing For Keeps experience, Mur has enlisted the help of some very talented people and created Stories of the Third Wave, snippets of radio broadcasts from Seventh City. Tune in for morning drive-time radio, the evening news, interviews, talk radio and more! Subscribe to The Playing For Keeps Experience to receive the audio novel, the Stories of the Third Wave segments, and a PDF of each chapter that you can read on your PC.

Go to the website. Subscribe to the feed. Join the next wave of serial audio excitement!

Netstuff: Podiobooks article in the New York Times online

There is an article in the Books section of the New York Times online today about one of my favorite websites, Podiobooks.com.

Podiobooks combines the concepts of audiobooks and podcasts to deliver free, full-length novels (fiction and non-fiction) in regular, bite-sized installments to your favorite podcatcher (I use iTunes).

After signing up for a free account, you can browse the site and subscribe to more than 90 titles. Once you’ve subscribed, chapters from the novel(s) are delivered to your podcatcher on a weekly basis. Feeds are customizable, so if you want to receive chapters more frequently you can tweak the delivery settings to meet your preference.

With most podcasts, when you subscribe your podcatcher downloads the latest episode; if you go to J.C. Hutchins’ 7th Son website right now and subscribe to his feed, you’ll get the latest episode of the second novel in his trilogy, which is definitely not where you want to begin listening.

On Podiobooks, when you subscribe to Hutchins’ first novel, 7th Son: Descent, (and you should), you get a custom feed that starts from the beginning of the book and delivers a new chapter on whatever schedule you like. That’s what makes Podiobooks unique.

Read the article, then go sign up for an account at Podiobooks.com. If you want some recommendations, I can suggest a few titles:

  • Ancestor by Scott Sigler.Am I the only one who finds the idea of Scott Sigler recording in a closet absolutely hilarious? I hope not. I want a poster made of that photo! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read the New York Times article, dammit! Most of the action Sigler’s second podcast novel takes place on a fictional island in Lake Superior, where scientists are hard at work creating beastly critters that want to eat us all. I enjoyed the hell out of this book, but I have one bone to pick with Mr. Sigler: No self-respecting Yooper would name his dog “Pasty”.
  • 7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins. I’ve talked about this book on KJToo.com and on The Round Table more times than I can count, and with good reason: it rocks. After a four-year-old boy kills the President of the United States, seven men are suddenly ripped away from their ordinary lives to discover that they are all clones of the man responsible assassination, and only by working together can they stop him.
  • The Red Panda Adventures by Decoder Ring Theater. Radio drama in the style of The Shadow and The Green Hornet. The Red Panda and The Flying Squirrel use clever gadgets, hypnosis and fisticuffs to fight crime on the streets of Toronto. By day, the costumed vigilantes are actually one of the city’s wealthiest menUnless I missed something, The Red Panda’s alter ego is never named throughout Season One. I only realized this about halfway into the season, so I’ll admit I wasn’t listening for the name in the first few episodes. Very clever. and his sassy driver, Kit Baxter.
  • Voices: New Media Fiction edited by Mur Lafferty. A collection of previously-podcasted short stories from authors like Cory Doctorow, Tee Morris, James Patrick Kelly and Patrick McLean (whose “Death of a Dishwasher” is one of the collection’s highlights).
  • The Curious Education of Epitome Quirkstandard by A.F. Harrold. How to describe this one? At the risk of insulting the author and the citizens of the United Kingdom, I’ll call it “very British”. Epitome Quirkstandard is an English dandy who — thanks to World War I — finds himself without a cadre of servants waiting on him hand and foot. Simone Crepuscular ran away from home to join the circus and accidentally joined the army, instead. After a long tour in India, Crepuscular leaves the service and travels across Asia and Europe, eventually returning to England where he self-publishes an astonishing number of pamphlets that contain the length and breadth of his considerable knowledge and experience. When the clueless Quirkstandard passes out near Crepuscular’s pamphlet shop, it marks the beginning of his curious eduction.

Podcast: The Round Table Episode 2.7

Mick Bradley edited The Round Table in record time and actually had the show posted less than twenty-four hours after we recorded. Mur Lafferty (Geek Fu Action Grip, I Should Be Writing) and Caroline (Gamer the Podcasting) brought their XX chromosomes to the table for a discussion centering around the role women play in the Hero’s Journey, the difference between the feminine and masculine heroic journeys, how the fairer sex is portrayed in popular fiction, how to create believable female characters when writing or creating RPGs, and how women and men differ in their approach to roleplaying games.

Fly, my minions! Download the show from The House of the Harping Monkey or subscribe to the feed with your favorite podcatcher!